Balmy evenings, beautiful views, and an abundance of fresh tropical delicacies…all these factors combine to make dining out in Rio a memorable experience as long as you pick the right restaurants and avoid the tourist traps. (Hint, with few exceptions, the bar-restaurants and pizza joints along Copacabana beach front fall into the latter category…)
But if you want to go all out to impress that special someone – be it your long-term partner or that Brazilian beauty you met on Ipanema Beach – there are some restaurants that are guaranteed to score top points for romance. And while some of Rio’s most romantic restaurants do fall into the ‘luxury’ category, others are affordable even for those on tight travel budgets.
Here’s our pick of the top romantic restaurants in Rio de Janeiro.
1. Pergula Nothing says glamour quite like sipping a glass of champagne by the pool at Copacabana Palace, and at this informal restaurant non-guests are welcome to do just that. While the indoor restaurant, Cipriani, requires formal dress, here you can relax in your slinkiest holiday wear and let the romantic mood take over as you choose from a range of finger foods and main meals, all with an Italian-Brazilian flavour. Very pricey, but worth it as a treat.
2. Aprazivel The French-Brazilian food here is delicious, but it’s the al-fresco dining and the stunning views over Guanabara Bay that make Aprazivel extra special. The restaurant sits high on a hilltop in the leafy, bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, and tables and chairs are set out under tropical trees lit with sparkling fairy lights and visited by monkeys and toucans. Pricey, but not budget-busting.
3. Fasano Al Mare The Fasano Rio hotel in Ipanema was the first hotel to really give Copacabana Palace a run for its money when it opened in 2008, and its elegant Italian seaood restaurant scores is easily the equal of Cipriani at Copacabana Palace. The understated white decor and tranquil ambience are pleasant enough, but the seafood is simply outstanding. Guests can ask for their tables to be curtained off to up the romance factor even more. Very expensive.
4. Espirito Santa Pull up a chair at one of the tables on the candle-lit patio, and order a cocktail made with native Brazilian fruits before ordering from a menu that makes good use of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood from across the country, with a particular emphasis on the Amazon. The views over the scenic streets of Santa Teresa are almost as delicious as the food. Prices here are moderate, by Brazilian standards.
5. Mr Lam Chinese food had never been associated with fine dining in Rio until the arrival of Mr Lam, in 2007. This stylish restuarant is located between the two well-to-do neighborhoods of Lagoa and Jardim Botanico, and attracts a clientele that includes stars of stage, screen and sport. The food is undeniably good, but the main reason to come here on a romantic date is the setting. The top floor tables sit directly beneath the arms of the Christ statue, and on clear, warm nights the glass roof slides right back to offer immaculate views of Rio’s most famous resident. Expensive, but the set meals are a real feast.
Photo shows Aprazivel, in Santa Teresa, courtesy of www.apartmentinrio.net